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Health professionals

Cancer Council WA is urging women to use Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a reminder to be aware of the common symptoms of the disease.

Cancer Council WA Cancer Education and Screening Manager, Melissa Treby, said breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among WA women

“The latest data reveals that in 2019, 1,899 women in WA were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 259 women lost their lives to it,” Ms Treby said.

“If you notice a change in your breast or you’re unsure about a possible symptom you should make an appointment to discuss the change with your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker as soon as possible. This is particularly important if it’s been more than four weeks since you first noticed the change.

“Cancer treatments continue to evolve and improve, and the chance of successful treatment is higher when breast cancer is found early.

“Everyone’s breasts are different. It is important that you get to know what your breasts look and feel like, so you know what is normal for you. There is no right or wrong way to check your breasts.”

Common symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A lump or hard area in your breast or underarm, especially if it is only on one side
  • A change in the size, shape or feel of your breast
  • Change in the look of your breast, including redness, rash, or your skin looks like the skin of an orange, or is wrinkling in small folds
  • Changes to the nipple, like it’s pulled inwards, leaking, itchy or has a sore that won’t heal
  • Breast pain or discomfort, especially if it is only on one side
  • An area of the breast that feels different to the rest

Breast cancer can also occur with no symptoms, so for Australian women 50 to 74 years NOT experiencing the symptoms above, it’s important to take part in breast screening every two years with BreastScreen WA.

BreastScreen WA will send invitations to women from the age of 50 but if you are aged 40-49 and would like to participate you are still eligible so if you are concerned about your breast cancer risk, you can chat with your doctor about starting screening before the age of 50.

Remember though, screening mammograms are designed for people who are NOT experiencing symptoms. Waiting to participate in screening when you have a symptom could delay your diagnosis and risk a worse outcome. So, if you have a symptom, see your doctor.

For more information about breast cancer symptoms,